Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This Half Week In Not Surfing

1. Five harried travelers ahead of me in the security line one of the greatest right fullbacks in the history of soccer removes his shoes. My heart quickens as I am sure no one around me realizes this. My heart quickens at the thought of nicking a selfie with him. If I can just catch up. If this stupid line can go faster. That oaf hasn't got his laptop out yet. Yes! You have to take your watch off. Yes! The laptop goes in a bin by itself. Somehow, some way I nearly bump into the great player at the top of the escalator. He is fiddling with his phone. It is a moment of real conundrum for me. I take what I believe is the path of pride. The path of respect. "Excuse me. Thank you, thank you for everything you've done." I shake his hand. He smiles warmly, I imagine because he is grateful too. Grateful that I did not ask for a selfie. Will he be grateful if he catches the walking pneumonia I seem to be carrying around with me?

 2. The lady besides me has black leggings. She is tall, from Manchester, covers herself completely with the red courtesy blanket and pulls her beanie over her whole face. When her chrysalis blossoms near the end of the flight, she explains she is heading to the Canary Islands to finish filming a sci-fi T.V. show about the end of the world.

3. I am shut out of a sauna and a banya. The banya has no room. The sauna is on women's day. I visit Isabel who has just made a surfy film with Jamie. We walk and talk from Shoreditch back to Clerkenwell. I tell her about a movie I like. She tells me about a movie she likes. I have included their surfy film here.

4. Five movies I like : Father Goose. Tampopo. The Castle. Of Time and The City. The Great Beauty. I tell Chris these movies are like jigsaw puzzle pieces inside my heart. Along with my children, my wife, the dogs I have owned, my friends, my anguish, my insecurity, my misconceptions and my memories, these films remind me of who I am. At dinner, over food curried from beneath heat lamps in a section of the restaurant grandly titled "The Carvary," I list this list to Chris.

5. The hotel room in the small Midlands city smells of exhaled smoke and the faint odor of human waste. The paint is chipping. The sheets are stale. There is mold. There is a gap between one wall and the other. Inside the gap is dark. I do not take my clothes off when I sleep. I wish deeply I still smoked so I can light up a cigarette and join in the air.

6. Dev shows us around Leicester. He shows us the house of the rich girl who, after dancing late into the night, would take him and his friends home to play snooker around her father's 12 foot table. He points out the bar where his buddy got hustled by a lady pool shark. He takes us to a Naan joint that is so devoid of any decoration it seems abandoned at first until three middle eastern men pop their heads out of the back room almost simultaneously. He tells us how the first letters of the names of the streets in one part of town spells out the name of the architect who designed the brick tenement housing. He shows us where he met his wife. He tells us about the love song he'd written her. He had studied engineering. He had built pools in France.

7. My trip to India is cancelled. The client balked at our numbers. I have never been to India and was looking forward to going to India. But between the lingering walking pneumonia, the nausea induced by the hotel room odor and the odd responses the goat naan has already produced in my stomach, I find plenty of reason to ignore the disappointment. A good month away from my family might have been a good break for us all. Maybe all of us except the children. And the dog.

8. When Chris cuts our stay at the hotel one night short, the man in the polyester vest asks him why. Chris runs down the litany of reasons. He does not hold back. When he is finished, the blinking man offers an apology to which Chris replies in genuinely the nicest way possible, " Oh you don't need to apologize. This place is awful."

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